We are aware some users might find it difficult to log into our site today. We are working on this issue and hope to have it resolved shortly.
News

Nurses must prioritise their mental health after pandemic burnout

British Association of Critical Care Nurses chair warns intensive care unit workers are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as NHS heads into winter

British Association of Critical Care Nurses chair warns intensive care unit workers are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as NHS heads into winter

Nurses must prioritise their mental health, a leading critical care nurse said as she warned intensive care nurses are already ‘exhausted’ heading into winter.

British Association of Critical Care Nurses (BACCN) chair Nicki Credland said a number of intensive care unit (ICU) staff were off work due to burnout or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after working through the pandemic.

Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic surge

She said that a combination of

British Association of Critical Care Nurses chair warns intensive care unit workers are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as NHS heads into winter

Picture shows a stressed intensive care unit worker: nurses must prioritise their mental health after COVID-19 pandemic burnout
Picture: Alamy

Nurses must prioritise their mental health, a leading critical care nurse said as she warned intensive care nurses are already ‘exhausted’ heading into winter.

British Association of Critical Care Nurses (BACCN) chair Nicki Credland said a number of intensive care unit (ICU) staff were off work due to burnout or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after working through the pandemic.

Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic surge

She said that a combination of short-staffing, a rise in COVID-19 hospital admissions and caring for the backlog of patients having elective surgery was affecting the workforce.

‘The physical exhaustion and the mental stress are significant and concerning,’ she told Nursing Standard.

‘We went into a surge back in 2020 and have never come out of it.’

Ms Credland said long shifts wearing personal protective equipment and each nurse treating up to three patients – up from the usual 1:1 nurse to patient ratio in ICU – was taking its toll.

‘Earlier in the pandemic, staff were redeployed to support ICU nurses,’ Ms Credland said.

‘But because of the push to continue with addressing the backlog of surgery those staff are needed in their normal working environment, which is another knock-on effect.’

The mental health fallout of the pandemic on nursing staff

A 2021 Imperial College London study of 515 ICU staff in seven countries found half (48%) displayed signs of mental health conditions including depression, insomnia and PTSD after working through the pandemic.

Ms Credland said more staff were ultimately needed to ease pressure on ICU nurses.

She also urged ICU nurses to seek support if they needed it. ‘There is nothing wrong with asking for help,’ she said.

‘No one can be expected to work under these conditions and be perfectly fine.’

Government-funded staff mental health hubs

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the government had invested £37 million to fund 40 staff mental health hubs, running alongside a dedicated helpline and a 24/7 text support service.

‘We have also provided the NHS with an extra £5.4 billion to deal with pressures caused by COVID-19, including an extra £1 billion to tackle the backlog,’ the spokesperson added.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Management
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs